JUPITER, Fla. -- Allen Craig will probably not be ready for Opening Day, but the 27-year-old is happy with how his knee is progressing.
Craig had surgery in November to repair a small fracture in his right kneecap. Originally expected to be out until May, Craig believes he might be ready to return to the Cardinals sooner.
"I'm doing really well and making a lot of progress from week to week," Craig said. "Right now, we're just trying to get me in better baseball shape, taking more swings and doing more running. I feel good. Still have a little ways to go, but I feel good."
Limitations are to be expected, but Craig feels his knee is responding well to almost everything he has done this spring.
"Hitting, it feels fine," Craig said. "I don't feel it when I hit. I'm just working on getting agility down and getting that quick burst back. Running feels pretty good. I'm just ironing out the kinks and getting the little things taken care of."
The progression from rehabilitation to game action is crucial for any injured player. Craig believes his return to the field is right on track, and he hopes to be participating fully in workouts soon.
"I wouldn't say I'm 100 percent yet, but I'm getting to the point where I can start being integrated into more baseball workouts," Craig said. "I can pretty much do everything on the field. Right now, it's about getting up to speed and getting my legs under me a little more and getting prepared for a full season."
Sometimes a player will try to rush back from an injury sooner than they should. Craig would love to be ready for Opening Day, but that may not be possible. With the season starting in a little more than two weeks, Craig may not have enough time to prepare himself for the start of the season.
"It's tough, because you always want to be a part of the team and be around the guys, but I understand the process," Craig said. "I'm not going to get down about it, because it is what it is. I'll be ready when I'm ready, and I don't anticipate it being too much longer. There's a lot to be optimistic about. I'm just trying to stay positive and focus on that."
Wainwright improving with each start
JUPITER, Fla. -- Adam Wainwright continues to impress in his first Spring Training since returning from Tommy John surgery.
The Cardinals right-hander made his first home start of the spring on Sunday and held the Marlins to one unearned run on one hit over four innings.
"I was real pleased with today," Wainwright said. "By far the most comfortable I felt on the mound. I made a bunch of good pitches. I've just got to hone it in a little bit, because I made a lot of quality pitches, down in the zone and just off the corner."
Wainwright, who was very happy with how his pitches worked in previous starts, believes he is improving with each outing and getting closer to where he wants to be.
"The way the ball was spinning, my stuff was maybe similar," Wainwright said. "Command-wise, I'm real close to being where I need to be."
Wainwright has allowed just two hits over nine innings this spring. The 30-year-old has not allowed an earned run in any of his three Grapefruit League outings. Even with all of his success this spring, Wainwright still works hard between starts to continue improving.
"I'm going to continue to make good quality adjustments, so that each time I go out there, I feel a little better," Wainwright said. "I feel good with where I am at. I've just got to make sure I stay on top of everything and not get too comfortable."
One adjustment Wainwright focused on heading into this start involved his mechanics.
"Last game, I was jumping out way ahead of my arm," Wainwright said. "My body was out of control. Today, I controlled my body, and that allowed me to get on top of the ball and throw a lot of good, quality pitches down in the zone. Last time, I was fighting the ball up in the zone."
The right-hander credits his work between starts for his improved fastball command.
"I got in front of a mirror and looked at my body through the entire delivery," Wainwright said. "I think if you're going to be able to make good adjustments on the mound, you need to understand your delivery. That's one of those things that I try to constantly stay on top of, understanding my delivery."
While Wainwright is focused on preparing for the start of the season, some are speculating that he could get the nod on Opening Day if Chris Carpenter is not ready by then. Wainwright would be honored to take the ball on April 4, but he does not expect to pitch in the Cardinals' first game.
"If you ask any competitor in here, he'd say yes," Wainwright said of wanting to pitch on Opening Day. "I don't think that's mine this year, but hopefully in years to come."
David Villavicencio is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.